By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner
At the recent February 2023 Long Beach Coin Expo, a client came up to my table and asked if I would look at a coin for him. The coin in question was a PCGS EF45 1865 quarter eagle. This seems like a fairly mundane coin if you don’t know the series, but it’s actually a rare issue with an original mintage of just 1,520 business strikes and a surviving population of less than 50.
As he placed the coin in front of me, he asked a simple question: “Should I have bought this coin?” He is assembling a complete set of regular-issue 1865-dated United States coinage and this was a coin that he had been searching for in vain for over a decade.
I wasn’t overly fond of the coin as it had funky orange-gold color which, in my opinion, limited the eye appeal. My first reaction was to tell him “No, you should have passed.”
Then I began to think… when was the last time I handled a decent 1865 quarter eagle, let alone a nice one? It seemed like a looooong time.
I went onto PCGS.com to search for recent sales. There were only seven that had been sold at auction since 2016, but two were No Grades. I hated the NGC AU50 that traded in August 2022 (the most recent offering). Nor was I a fan of the PCGS AU58 that sold in January 2021 with its very funky color. In fact, the only one that I cared for that had crossed the block within recent memory was the Heritage 2/2020: 3149 coin graded AU58 by PCGS, which had brought $45,600. Cool piece – but way out of this collector’s budget.
Note: I sold the finest known—an amazing PCGS MS63—back in 2002 to the Kansas Collection.
I was intrigued enough to narrow my search to coins graded EF40 or EF45 by either service. The answer was pretty compelling: since 2000, there had been just five appearances and this included an ANACS piece that was clearly a No Grade.
In just five minutes, I changed my mind about his purchase. While I wasn’t crazy about the actual coin, it was entirely possible that if he had passed, then he might have had to wait a decade or longer to even have a shot at a nice EF/EF+. And that’s if such a coin even existed.
Which brings me to the point of this article.
If you collect a very challenging series or a specific set, then the chances are good that you’ll be forced to buy at least one coin–maybe a lot more–that you really don’t like. And to add insult to injury, you’ll probably have to pay too much for it. In the case of the 1865 quarter eagle, the collector made a difficult decision but it was 100% the right one.
I’d be curious to hear your comments. Did Mr. 1865 Quarter Eagle make the right choice? What would you have done? Have you had to make similar decisions with your specialty?
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and a recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought-after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality, and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Red Book”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues.
In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.
Yes, I think Mr. 1865 Quarter Eagle made the right choice!
Rare is rare! Regardless of appearance, if an item is rare you cannot pass on it.
I just returned to coin collecting a few years ago. So I apply my collecting experience from another field. I’ve been collecting rare Order of the Arrow Boy Scout patches for over fifty years. In that genre some issues are so limited and rare, quantities of fifty or less, along with a low survival rates, one could not be picky. These patches would sell for thousands of dollars each, so it was not a light hearted decision.
On another note, I truly enjoyed reading your article as I learned a great deal and you re-enforced my approach to assembling my Dollar Type set.